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It is the parents’ responsibility to give kids the sex talk along with everything else, if we want kids to imbibe a healthy respect for their own and others’ bodies.
Parenting is a very important part of almost everyone’s life. In fact, when you decide to start your own family and settle down, you would be overloaded with tips on raising children, parenting techniques to discipline difficult children and many more.
Listening and gaining from others’ experiences is one thing. But completely following their advice would be a chance lost to have experimented different parenting techniques with your own child. Of course, every parent has to understand that every child is different. I have a twin sister, and the differences are as much evident as the similarities.
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And now, I come to the crux of this article – why present parenting styles and new parents should focus on the sex education of a child.
A child usually learns about the stages of physical growth and development from science classes at school. That is the maximum limit, they come close to, in discussing sex education at schools. Then there are the media, television, peer groups and internet, that serve as other sources. But, in today’s context, is this truly enough? I think this is a relevant question, as much as family planning or a child’s schooling or college education. Sex education at the right time has its own benefits.
Sexual abuse is not unfamiliar yet still not talked about in most families. It is one of the most reported news, almost every day. Yet, how come parents still don’t find it an important subject while addressing a growing child? How else is the child to know when somebody touches him/her in a bad way? How is the child to differentiate good touch from the bad touch?
Surely, enough mental stress or trauma, and possible physical injury will have happened, if we are going to let the child find out on their own. Times have changed, and sexual assaults on children and teenagers is a grave concern. Babies and children as old as one year and two years, get raped. Such is the effect of the brutality of violence mindsets.
Therefore, just as we guide children in matters of self hygiene such as bathing, cleansing, shampooing and cleaning of body parts, a talk should be initiated about the purpose of all body parts.
Next comes sexual needs, which is one of the basic needs to be satisfied. But that does not mean endless, meaningless sex or causing grievous or bodily harm and lack of respect for others’ bodies. So why can’t the sex talk also be initiated in our homes?
The popularity of sex education has of course increased over the years, with many creative approaches. Online media has become a good option through a number of web series, short films and animated videos on sex education. And such platforms have shown good potential for healthy discussions not just at homes but at schools, colleges. They do encourage us to think, on individual, family and societal levels.
Children can be curious, of what they find in the world of Internet, films, magazines, journals. And incorrect information, at the wrong time, can develop prejudices among the youth and lead them to adopt unhealthy practices and attitudes toward sex. That is, again, precisely why parents should have ‘that talk – the sex talk’ with their children and not save it before the wedding day! Sex talk is not about different positions of having sex. It is about safe sex, precautions on unwanted pregnancy and sexual health. Sexual health is as much important as the physical health of one’s body.
WHO has defined sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” And it is not new knowledge that sexual health comes under Reproductive rights. Thus it becomes even more important that when comprehensive sex education is imparted, it has to be age appropriate with an emphasis on human rights, gender equality, and a positive approach to sex, sexuality and pleasure.
In this way, a young adult or child, will have access to sexual health professionals. Also, they will be taught to recognise situations in which they are forced for sex and how to deal with it, their rights and legal provisions. Children and adolescents don’t need to punished or grounded but guided and allowed to think for themselves. It’s only a mature way of being responsible for one’s own actions.
So as parents, you can’t really expect your child not to converse in such matters related to sex and then ship them off, to have a magical experience with their spouses. They are getting their knowledge, from out there. You know it and they know it. So it’s just the moment of sitting down, with your child, for the talk.
Changes towards attitude to sex can go a long way. To adopting a healthier approach in family life and passing on the practice to the next generation and also curbing violence mindsets and understanding gender roles, identity, gender equality and sexuality.
Published here earlier.
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Artist. Writer. Thinker.
Based in Delhi.
Ponders on most things in the universe. Also ponders
Yes! I couldn’t agree with you more Ashly and this is a very well written post! This is a long over due piece of advice, Indian parents must pay heed to immediately. We plot and plan our children’s academic and career path with so much enthusiasm …to the point of it being intrusive and obsessive, yet a simple natural normal part of our life like sex and sexuality, we just leave them on their own to figure out. Children can benefit tremendously from understanding and internalising all the valid points you have made here regarding sex and sexuality. We must not shy away from this responsibility under the guise of value and traditions. We must guide and address this area of our children’s attitudes, with as much earnest concern as we would their education and career, and like you rightly point out, well before they marry. After all, a child’s healthy and safe attitude towards respect for his/her body and those of others, their own sexual needs and sexuality, is a major component of their evolving identity and well being, and when they become adults, it will affect the well being of their partners and the society as a whole.
Thank you for your opinion , very valid & beautifully said in your words.
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